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Get your coins ready for the “Jazz Jukebox” by Jordan Young

One of the strengths of Marc Free’s Posi-Tone imprimatur is that it is responsible for introducing us to many great and upcoming jazz artists. Drummer Jordan Young is a Detroit native who has studied with some of the best of the modern-day masters and is making a name for himself in New York. His sophomore release for Posi-Tone, Jazz Jukebox, is a bristling thirteen-track collection that lives up to its name. There’s a nice smattering of standards, pop ditties, and hard bop chestnuts, each clocking in between three and four minutes. While the brevity of the performances might be construed as a negative on first glance, it actually further ties in with the theme at hand. Think seven-inch 45s with a song on each side and you get the idea.

Two pieces with ties to the classic Blue Note era of the 60s kick off the date. “Son of Ice Bag” figured prominently on Lonnie Smith’s Think album, while Larry Young’s “Paris Eyes” is a gem from the organist’s Into Somethin’. Both receive a contemporary update with Brian Charette‘s iconic organ tone at the forefront. On the bop front, Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” gets a spirited romp bolstered by Young’s dry cymbal beat. Guitarist Matt Chertkoff speaks volumes both in his solid comping and fleet-fingered solo work, his tone and attack sounding like a cross between Melvin Sparks and Pat Martino.

Charette keeps it lowdown and greasy on Jimmy Smith’s “Eight Counts for Rita.” By contrast, he calls up some vibrato and gets that classic ballad feel on “I Want a Little Girl.” Young likes to play with various grooves and manages to put a different spin on such disparate material as the theme from “Love Boat” and Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” The former starts almost like a second line groove before morphing into a funk beat, while the latter number moves as a high octane waltz.

Tenor saxophonist Nick Hempton can be heard on four of the tracks and doesn’t necessarily add or take anything away from the proceedings. What makes the trio cuts sparkle is the obvious connections these players have developed on the job. Jordan himself doesn’t go out of his way to deliver flashy solos, but instead serves the music with his tasteful interjections. As just one example of many, listen to his tasty fills on the Charette’s toe-tapping “Giant Deconstruction.” Utilizing a vintage Gretsch kit, Young sounds like he’s done his homework. Given even wider parameters, I would love to hear what other things he’s got up his sleeves.

C. Andrew Hovan – All About Jazz

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A polished trio fronted by an articulate drummer is “Jazz Jukebox”

mindset2The predominance of the jukebox in social situations is essentially a thing of the past. But how much has really changed? Those once-ubiquitous machines that brought musical happiness to the good people in corner bars and diners throughout the land may have vanished, but the concept they put forward has not. It’s simply been modernized, with shuffling playlists, random streaming, curated listening parties, and smartly programmed albums like this now carrying the jukebox flame and furthering the mix-it-up musical formula.

Jazz Jukebox is exactly what you’d expect, both based on the title and what drummer Jordan Young cooked up on his first two albums—Jordan Young Group (Self Produced, 2010) and Cymbal Melodies (Posi-Tone, 2012). It’s a diverse program built on sharp and concise arrangements of jazz and pop nuggets. Everything from Thelonious Monk‘s “Rhythm-A-Ning” to Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” and Hugh Masekela‘s “Son Of Ice Bag” to Charles Ira Fox’s campy “Love Boat” makes it into the mix, and nothing overstays its welcome. The longest tracks don’t even crack the four-and-a-half minute mark.

Young keeps things moving here, largely focusing on upbeat material pulled from different corners of the music world. He nods to Larry Young with a performance of the organist’s jaunty “Paris Eyes,” gets his sloshy hi-hat going for a spell on The Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” prods organist Brian Charette and guitarist Matt Chertkoff during their solos on Wayne Shorter‘s “ESP,” and trades with glee on “Tadd’s Delight.” If that’s not enough variety, there’s also Charette’s “Giant Deconstruction,” an odd-metered, ascending twist on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”; Jimmy Smith’s soulful and bluesy “Eight Counts For Rita,” one of four numbers to bring tenor saxophonist Nick Hempton into play; and Chertkoff’s arrangement of “Will You Still Be Mine,” a caffeinated brush feature for the leader.

In choosing to work with Charette and Chertkoff, Young capitalizes on musical relationships that have been fostered over a long stretch of time—basically week in, week out at Tribeca’s Authentic Bar B Flat and other New York haunts. Due to those bandstand-forged connections, this crew is incredibly comfortable in its own skin. That’s something that tends to cut both ways. On the positive side, it makes for a strong team mindset in the music. All the stops, turns, and hits are incredibly tight. The group chemistry also fuels solid groove expressions—swinging, samba-esque, and soulful at different turns—which carry the music forward. The downside with the musical amity between these men is that it sometimes leaves the music wanting for more heat and/or friction. The band occasionally feels too comfortable. But is that really a problem? For most listeners, probably not. Those who dig the idea of sundry selections served up by a bright and polished trio fronted by an articulate drummer will be happy as can be when spinning Jordan Young’s Jazz Jukebox.

Dan Bilawsky – All About Jazz

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Midwest reviews our latest releases….

WILL BERNARD/Just Like Downtown: This tasty guitarist takes plenty of the spotlight for himself but he leaves enough room for Brian Charette to pump that greasy organ sound so much so that you can be excused for thinking this is B3 date if you hear it without knowing what it is. Swinging throughout, this four piece combo delivers the real deal and never let’s things ever sink below smoking. Hot stuff for real jazzbo although they might just let hipsters in for a taste. A winner.

NICK HEMPTON/Odd Man Out: Hempton’s playing here reminds me of a time Gerry Mulligan was teaching a master class at a university. There was a look of grudging admiration on his face when one of the student players just knew how to turn it up and turn it loose. I see that look again listening to this date. Hempton is a real cooker that can play the notes, play around the notes, play around with the notes and spread such good vibes in the process. A real swinger throughout, this is simply a killer date that expands the lexicon of modern jazz and makes it sound so cool in the process. Don’t miss it.

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Another positive review for Nick Hempton “The Business”…

“I don’t like jazz but I like that…”
Sound familiar? Nick Hempton’s sophomore release from 2011 is text book straight ahead swing with as a label executive friend of mine is fond of saying, “more hooks than a fisherman’s hat!” It is called the record business for a reason. Nick Hempton and his band can blow, they swing hard with a lean and mean attack of lyrical intensity and melodic grooves that could raise the dead or at least get their toes tapping.
While the quintet is rock solid, Hempton turns in a stellar performance as he does not subscribe to the speed is king mentality nor does he languish in odd meter in the self indulgent attempt to become the next flavor of the month. Opening with “Flapjacks In Belo” Hempton’s keen sense of melody and harmonic development is spot on. A slight blues infusion in spots keeps the tune interesting and the lyrical movement captivating. Hempton moves between alto and tenor throughout this release with the ease and grace of a musical chameleon. Pianist Art Hirahara turns in a harmonically driven solo with the forward sense of motion that drives the swing straight ahead and never allows the ensemble to jump the sonic track. “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” is that perfect late night nasty blues tune that screams last call!Hempton’s tenor tone is a musical happy place somewhere between Stanley Turrentine and Ben Webster and strikes an immediate sweet spot for fans of the more blues infused jazz closely associated with the two giants. “Cold Spring Fever” brings in six string phenom Yotam Silberstein with a deft touch and clean single note articulation that adds to the texture and ambiance so carefully crafted throughout this release. “Carry On Up The Blues” has just the right amount of pop to close out a straight ahead showcase.
Making old school become new cool is a daunting task for some musicians. Nick Hempton blows…in a good way. This is as far from a commercial release as you can get, Hempton owes no apologies for an amazing lyrical voice that simply can’t help but attract an audience. Commercial, accessible or contemporary are all misleading when it comes to the talent of Nick Hempton.
The Business is a classic straight ahead delight that screams, “You don’t have to go home but you gotta get the hell out of here!”
A 5 Star swing party of the highest caliber.
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SomethingElse Reviews Nick Hempton “The Business”…

Australian native alto sax practitioiner Nick Hempton is distingished by his smooth tone and direct delivery. The Business is distinguished by a few things, too. First of all, Hempton is joined by Art Hirahara, is in-demand session pianist who last spring delivered a solid album himself. Secondly, Hempton’s eight originals are all dulcet, deviating and resolutely swinging. Hempton shifts gears from the steady groove of “Flapjacks In Belo” to tender ballads like “The Wading Game,” but they’re tied together by an effortless flow and excellent supprt from his working band that inlcudes Hirahara, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Dan Aran and for some tracks, guitarist Yotam Silberstein. Only two covers, and the standout is a cookin’ impression of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “From Bechet, Byas, And Fats.”


For just his second album, Nick Hempton shows that he means, well, business. Seriously good jazz business. The Business was released July 5 by Posi-Tone Records.

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ejazznews reviews Nick Hempton “The Business”….

Nick Hempton “The Business”

Oct 5th, 2011 

By: Edward Blanco

Leading the Nick Hempton Band on their second album and first on the Posi-Tone label, saxophonist Hempton guides his able quintet through a selection of highly entertaining, hard-driving and solid swinging modern jazz tunes that’s all business. Whether on the tenor or alto saxophones, Hempton is equally steamy, smooth and sophisticated demonstrating fiery moves on such burners as “Press One For Bupkis,” the opening “Flapjacks In Belo” and on the bright “From Bechet, Byas, And Fats.”

Renowned pianist Art Hirahara and guitarist Yotam Silberstein are joined by bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Dan Aran to form one of the finest rhythm sections in the business. Together, they have been providing the musical support for Hempton since 2005 and on this second recording, distinguish themselves with their play.

With the help of tasty bass work from Panascia, Hempton is especially expressive on the light “Encounter At E” followed by more warm touches on “Cold Spring Fever,” this time aided by Silberstein’s playful guitar picks and solo. Hirahara introduces the Hempton original “Not Here For A Haircut,” a piece that evolves quickly into one of the other sizzling numbers of the set where the saxophonist tees off with some of his best solo work.

The saxophonist shows a glimpse of his bluesy side on the Don Redman standard “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” and finishes the session with the brief but hard-hitting “Carry On Up The Blues,” an original that’s more hard bop than straight blues. There are many highlights on this well-balanced program that will provide many moments of musical pleasure for those who sample the disc. Nick Hempton is neither flashy nor withdrawn, but rather creative, intense and superb delivering The Business in high-quality fashion.

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AAJ interview with Nick Hempton….

“I like to chat with the audience between songs. Sometimes it gets absurd; sometimes I’m quite happy with it. And sometimes I’ll spin some nonsense story, it will fall flat and everyone will stare at me. Sometimes it works, and everybody has a good time.”

The Business (Posi-Tone, 2011) is a milestone in the career of Nick Hempton. Since arriving in the USA from his native Australia in 2004, the 35-year-old saxophonist, composer, and bandleader has slowly but surely worked his way up the ladder of the notoriously competitive New York City jazz scene. Hempton’s second date as a leader is a testament to his talent, dedication, hard work, and to a willingness not to take himself too seriously. The disc is distinguished by an unusually cohesive band of strong-minded individuals, compositions by Hempton that sound genuinely original even as they stay within the broad confines of the jazz mainstream and, perhaps most importantly, his mature, assured voice as a soloist.

A Band Sound

All About Jazz: Congratulations on the release of The Business. It’s definitely a worthy successor to Nick Hempton Band (Self Produced, 2009), your first date as a leader.

Nick Hempton: I feel like it’s not an improvement but a development from the first record. I actually listened to the first album about a month or so ago. I’m happy with it. It still stands up. The band as a whole has developed over the last few years. And I think that the band sound is really what I’ve been going for.

AAJ: That’s one of impressive things about the new record. It really does have a band sound. These days, that’s something unique.

NH: There’s more and more of that happening. There are people putting bands together with the same guys. But I still think that it’s a relative rarity. I think that it’s very obvious—you can hear it straight away when a band’s been working together for a long time, as opposed to a pick-up group. In the old days they used to talk about keeping a band together. I think that’s a concept that really doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe in the ’50s you could tour enough with a band, and constantly work as a unit. Unless you’re someone like Branford Marsalis, you can’t do that. For most people, I think, that’s beyond us. Having the same guys working together once a month or so—that’s about as close as we can get.

AAJ: It’s really a shame that the economics work against it.

NH: Well, there are really a lot of factors as to why that kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

AAJ: There used to be a circuit—in this country, anyway—of clubs where bands could work on an ongoing basis. Certain bands would tour for six months a year. Louis Hayes used to tell me stories about working regularly with Horace Silver.

NH: I’ve heard those stories, too. That sounds like a dream to us now.

AAJ: Even though guys didn’t always love being on the road, at least they worked consistently and bands got tight that way. You can hear the results of it on their records.

NH: Horace Silver is a great example of that. He had the ideal working band sound, with the same guys working really hard for ages, touring a lot and making records. Those were some of the tightest bands ever, I think. That’s what we’re all aiming for. We all do what we can.

Working with a Producer

AAJ: How did you make the connection with Marc Free of Posi-Tone Records?

NH: I think I bugged Marc for a couple of years. When we made the first record—I put that out myself—I contacted him when I had the masters ready. We had a couple of meetings, and he liked it. But I guess it wasn’t the right time for either one of us. I called him after it came out, and it was reviewed quite well and was getting radio play. I got in touch and told him we were getting ready to do another one. And I guess he thought we were all ready to work together. It worked out really well.

AAJ: Describe the differences between working with a producer and an established record label as opposed to doing everything yourself.

NH: I would say that having a label has it pros and cons. I kind of got used to having complete control over the product. Having said that, Marc has been very good in working with me. There’s a lot of give-and-take in our working relationship. I don’t feel like decisions have been made that I’m not happy with. It’s been a very positive experience. It takes a lot of pressure off the band to have a producer who says, “This is what I want.” And then we have a discussion. The entire weight isn’t on my shoulders. It makes things easier. Also, it took a lot of pressure off of me in terms of putting out the entire record.

Adding the Tenor Saxophone

AAJ: Unlike your first record, in which you played the alto exclusively, there are a couple of tracks on The Business featuring your tenor saxophone. Was the tenor your first horn? Please comment on your decision to include the tenor on the new record.

NH: Alto was definitely my first horn. When I was living in Sydney, there were jazz gigs, but not as many as one hoped for. So we did things such as rock ‘n’ roll, R & B, and various other kinds of gigs. At that point, I played jazz on alto and rock ‘n’ roll on tenor. I would put the tenor into the jazz gigs now and again, but it was never really a focus. For the last few years, I felt like playing it more and more, and have put more work into it. It’s not equal to the alto or anything, but more and more I’m trying to get it in there. It’s been really interesting to me. I’m learning the differences between the two horns. Like I say, I’ve played both of them side by side for years, and now I’m working out the real intricacies of the two instruments, like tone production and technique. I’m hoping it’s going to change and develop.

AAJ: Based on the record’s two tenor tracks, the character of your improvising on the instrument is a little different than on alto. It’s kind of a nice change.

NH: It is a change. In fact, in the studio, Yotam Silberstein, who plays guitar with us—but doesn’t play with the band that often—says that from alto to tenor it sounded like two different guys. I’m kind of happy with that because I think that you have to treat them as two different instruments. Like, playing my alto licks on tenor just sounds like an alto player playing tenor. I’m working on getting a different vocabulary on both horns. Eventually the idea will be to meld some sort of style that works on both of them.

AAJ: Sonny Stitt’s playing on alto and tenor created very different sounds.

NH: He’s really the guy I look at for inspiration. I think he’s been my favorite saxophonist forever. Tone-wise, he’s the guy I copied on alto most of all. No so much on tenor because I must say that I like his alto playing better than his tenor playing. You’re right, I think he has quite different styles on the two of them. His tenor playing seems to go back to much older styles.

Stable Personnel

AAJ: With one exception, the personnel is the same on both records. You’ve managed to keep a band together for the past few years despite the challenges of finding steady work. What’s your secret?


From left: Dan Aran, Marco Panascia, Nick Hempton, Art Hirahara
NH: It’s not really keeping the guys together. As much as I’d like to have them on a salary like the old days, that’s not really the case. I think that we work often enough, but not too often. They’re always ready and looking forward to the next gig that comes along. They’re not getting bored with the material and taking some other gig instead of mine. Generally, the guys have a great time playing. That may be the secret behind it. That’s really what I want to bring to the bandstand—the band having a good time—because I think it will lead to the audience having a good time. I think that’s really it. The guys just enjoy doing it.

AAJ Please offer your impressions of the band and their contributions to The Business.

AAJ: I think that the reason the band works well together is because [bassist] Marco Panascia, [drummer] Dan Aran, and [pianist] Art Hirahara have different personalities. I was just lucky that it worked out that way when I put the band together. It’s wasn’t really scientific. I just found the guys that I liked the sound of. Marco is a great swinger. He loves nothing more than to swing at a medium tempo, laying down a solid groove. Art’s very adventurous. He likes to stretch out, and takes me in new directions. Dan has an extremely strong groove, and also takes inspirations from world music and other styles of music. He has really open ears. So he brings all styles of music to the band. Certainly, all three of them push me in directions I have never gone before, every time we play together.

So that’s certainly what keeps it interesting for me. I think that it’s possible to play with the same guys for years, and it would become boring, but I’ve never felt that way. Hopefully, that comes across on the record. Generally, that’s how I feel when we’re playing on stage—and even in that fairly uncomfortable studio setting.

AAJ: The studio is a rather sterile environment.

NH: It’s not made for great creativity. It’s fighting against that. But even in the studio I found that they were introducing new ideas and really pushing me to go in different directions, which is quite a talent on their part.
The Business

AAJ: What exactly does The Business refer to?

NH: Many different things. Obviously, the music business. It’s [also] an expression that we use in Australia and in England, which never really came across here. I can’t think of a version that you would be able to print. It actually means “the shit”—we’re laying something down, and this is the way it is.

AAJ:The real thing, or something like that.

NH: Exactly. That’s what I meant. I was aware it didn’t really mean that in this country. It means enough other things that it’s going to work on other levels as well. So we pushed a little bit with the record label. I think that Marc was a bit nervous about it. It was one the battles that I managed to win.

A Sense of Humor

AAJ: Your absurd sense of humor comes out in website posts, the liner notes of the first record, and some of the titles of your original compositions. Does humor surface in live shows as well?

NH: Well, I like to think so. Certainly, I like to have a chat with the audience between songs. Sometimes it gets more absurd than others. Sometimes I’m quite happy with it. And sometimes I’ll spin some nonsense story, and it will fall flat and everyone will stare at me, which is ok. And sometimes it works, and everybody has a good time. I know that when I go to hear a performance, if it’s just song after song, it may be great, but I like the break and getting to know the performers—even if it’s not a description of the music exactly, just some kind of vocalization of what’s going on the stage.

AAJ: It makes the audience feel closer to the performer.

NH: Absolutely. And it comes naturally to me. I’m quite happy to pick up a microphone and just talk nonsense for awhile. There’s not much of that on the new record, sadly. There wasn’t the room for it. I quite enjoyed the liner notes on the first one, because I could do whatever I wanted. There was nobody telling me that there’s no place for this kind of nonsense on a CD jacket.

AAJ: The notes on the first record were a refreshing change from the serious, art-for-art’s-sake kind of stuff on most liners.

NH: I could have done that, but it didn’t really feel like me. I like to have a laugh at ourselves when we’re playing this music. We’re not changing the world. It’s jazz. We’re having a good time. You have to have a sense of humor about yourself and about your band mates and the type of music you’re playing. That’s kind of how I feel about it. I would feel strange to put out an album with deadly serious liner notes telling about how important that music was.

Consistency and Change

AAJ: On The Business, you’ve added Yotam Silberstein’s guitar on three tracks, and Art Hirahara plays electric piano on one track. Despite these changes in instrumentation, the band’s overall sound remains consistent and the record hangs together quite well as a whole. Even on a funky track like “Cold Spring Fever,” it still sounds like the Nick Hempton Band.

NH:That’s the best thing I could possibly hope for. I’m certainly glad you said that. I like to have a little bit of a change in there. The band is a quartet. Yotam has been part of the band from the beginning, at various times, especially if there’s the money for a quintet, or Art can’t make it. He’s always been part of the organization. I thought that dropping him in on three or four tracks would be a good idea, to just change things up a little bit. And with the electric piano, we’ve always done plenty of gigs where is no piano, which is never an ideal circumstance. So we kind of got used to this idea of the Rhodes sound in the band, and I wanted that sound on this record. And I wanted to have that with the guitar to sort of bring a whole new sound to the thing, but like you say, keeping the band together and a similar sound to the rest of it.

Do you remember a club in the East Village called Louis 649? The place is still there, but they don’t have music anymore. It was sort of an instrumental club for us. We used to play there every couple of weeks. It was a great club. No cover charge. The times we played, it was always packed. We did Friday nights there. The place had no piano, so we brought the keyboard along. I think that’s what really got the Rhodes sound into the band.

Non-Original Compositions

AAJ: Aside from your original compositions, you’ve chosen some tunes that aren’t often played by modern jazz musicians. Benny Carter’s “Lonely Woman” is on Nick Hempton Band. Don Redman’s “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” appears on The Business. The new record also includes a Rahsaan Roland Kirk composition that references Sidney Bechet, Don Byas and Fats Waller. Please explain your affinity for these songs.

NH: I’m really happy that I found the “Lonely Woman” tune on the first record. It’s such a great song. I learned it from Sarah Vaughan’s version. She did it in a session from the ’50s, withCannonball Adderley playing lead alto in a big band. It’s beautiful. She’s just heartbreaking. I learned it years ago, and we play it every now and again. When the first record came out, I was really into playing sad ballads—the most heartbreaking ballads I could find. The lyrics of the song are just devastating. I just had to try to get it down, and I’m glad I did because not many people play the song.

I’ve been listening to Roland Kirk forever. A teacher early on said that a lot of people overlook Roland Kirk. He wasn’t just some sort of novelty with the three horns and that kind of stuff—he was one of the best tenor players ever. And I realized that it’s true. Whatever horn he’s playing, it’s just beautiful lines. I started getting into his playing and composing. That track on the record is actually two tunes stuck together. It didn’t end up that way on the record cover; I think there wasn’t enough room to put that on there. Halfway through the tune, you’ll notice it speeds up, and it becomes a tune called “Rolando,” which is another Roland Kirk tune. I was glad to put something by him on there because not a lot of people play his tunes.

AAJ: The acceleration into the fast tempo works very well.

NH: We had a couple of gigs where that was not always the case— close to a train wreck. Fortunately, it worked quite well on the record.

The other one was “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You.” It’s one of the tunes that often comes up with the traditional-style players, who I love. It’s a great old tune.
Traditional-Style Playing

AAJ: You just used the phrase “traditional-style players.” It seems that the traditional players are a little more deliberate: storytellers with a narrative flow instead of cats just running licks. There is a lot of that in your playing, particularly the narrative flow aspect. It’s more like human speech, rather than someone simply trying to burn.

NH: I’m glad it sounds that way. I feel like that’s the way my playing is headed. Like I said, the Sonny Stitt style of alto playing is where I came from—and there’s a lot of running changes in that. I think I’m moving more and more away from that to just playing melodies.

There’s a lot more interplay between musicians in traditional styles. I find that in modern jazz there seems to be a lot of soloing and accompaniment. One guy is tearing it up and the others are supporting him. But in the traditional style of playing there’s always interplay between the horns—the front line—and the rhythm section. There’s real group improvisation. That’s what I love about it.




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A nice blog post about Nick Hempton’s hurricane gig…

The cooler Mr Hempton and the Nick Hempton band are launching their second CD “The Business” in New York on Saturday Night.

Smalls Jazz Club
183 W10th Street @7th Ave
New York, NY
7.30 – 10pm

Not only is Nick better looking than me but he blows almost as hard as Irene and much much cooler. The reviews have been universally good – but I will understand if you think you need to be home sandbagging…

PS. Apart from Irene I wish I was in New York for this. I will be in Early October (client visits). By then the wind might have died down…

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Some coverage for Nick Hempton “The Business” on

The other day I bought an album from eMusic, and by the end of the second track I already regretted it. I won’t tell you what record it was; I’ll just say it was the second album by a young alto saxophonist (the only album of his available on eMusic), and as I posted on Twitter yesterday, I should have taken the fact that it had the word “Cerebral” right there in the title as a warning. My own fault.

Here’s the thing. I have no problem with jazz musicians being smart. You’ve gotta have a certain baseline level of intelligence to want to play jazz, period. I just wish certain players wouldn’t advertise their smarts (or, more accurately, their level of education) quite so crudely in their compositions. Don’t launch an album with two minutes of unaccompanied, twisty-turny, knuckle-popping saxophone acrobatics and then slowly drift into some midtempo, rhythmically complex but melodically wan exercise in tricky scales and harmonic befuddlement. Start with a song. A composition that’ll stick in the listener’s ear and brain, something that’ll make them put your CD in the player a second, third and fourth time, anticipating hearing that hook again.

Australian-born, New York-based saxophonist Nick Hempton (also an alto player, by the way) understands this. The second CD by his quartet, The Business, is the product of a sharp and witty mind (track titles include “Press One for Bupkis,” “Not Here for a Haircut,” and “Flapjacks in Belo”), but it’s also the work of a kick-ass band. When they swing, they do it like they want you to get up and dance. There are sections of the piece “From Bechet, Byas and Fats,” a nearly nine-minute burner at the disc’s midpoint, that sound like they’re heading into Louis Jordan territory. And how does The Business begin? With “Flapjacks in Belo,” a piece that takes a Brazilian rhythm, then lights its tail feathers on fire. Meanwhile, the melody line is more than memorable; it’s practically unforgettable. It’s one of those hooks you’ll wish was available as a ringtone.

The whole record is like this. Even on ballads (there are two, of 10 tracks total), these guys burn it down. The band includes pianistArt Hirahara, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Dan Aran, and guitarist Yotam Silberstein, all but one of whom are part of Hempton’s working band. So maybe you should go check them out, minus Silberstein, when they celebrate the album’s release with a performance at Smalls on Saturday.

Posi-Tone Records, Hempton’s label and the subject of an article in the current print edition of Burning Ambulance, has provided me with five copies of The Business to give away. Want one? You should. To get one, email and tell me the names of a few of your favorite alto sax-led recordings (albums, individual tracks, whatever). You’ve got a week; winners will be chosen on Friday, September 2.

– Phill Freeman